Tips for managing in an emergency

In Australia, natural disasters can strike without warning.

Although it can be difficult to respond quickly to an emergency situation, you need to prioritise your actions to make sure you minimise the impact on your business.

To help you manage your business during times of crisis, the Small Business Support Line has put together the top 10 tips for managing emergencies.

1. Think safety first

It's important to listen to the advice of your local authority to find out if you need to evacuate. You should also be aware that services such as electricity and water may be cut off after receiving an evacuation order.

For emergency warnings in your area, keep in touch with your state or territory's State Emergency Services.

2. Know your emergency risks

To help you prepare for any immediate emergency risks, keep in touch with the government by using social media channels and related websites, such as:

3. Fire and flood proof your storage

If your business location is prone to natural disasters, it may be worth investing in a weather proof safe for all your important documents.

If possible, scan your documents digitally and store them on a handy USB drive for convenience. You could also consider hiring a space in a safer location to store your important documents.

4. Assess the impact on your business

If your business is directly affected by a natural disaster, the Business recovery checklist can help you to:

  • assess the full impact on your business
  • prioritise your efforts in your business recovery
  • understand what you need to consider before you can return to business as usual.

5. Stay, pause or exit?

Once you have assessed the impact on your business, you'll have to consider what it will take to recover your business.

If you're not sure your business can recover, it's a good idea to seek advice and support:

If exiting the business is an option, our information on Exiting can help you understand what is involved.

6. Re-establish your business

It's a good idea to start a database of customers when you first begin your business. Make sure you comply with privacy regulations by keeping their data secure and letting them know what you'll use it for.

You can use the database to let your customers know when you have recovered from emergencies.

7. Help your employees

If your business is affected by a natural disaster, it is likely your employees will be affected too.

Do you need to pay your employees when they're not working due to severe weather? For useful advice, read the Fair Work Ombudsman's Pay during stand down & severe weather.

You and your employees can get help from personal counselling services, and may be eligible for the Australian Government's Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA). The DRA provides short-term income support to people with a demonstrated loss of income as a direct result of a major disaster.

8. Seek advice to boost your recovery

A range of small business services can advise you on business recovery:

  • Find your nearest business adviser by using our Advisory Services search tool.
  • Find your nearest Business Enterprise Centre or Australian Small Business Advisory Services programme provider for advice and support.
  • Get tips on how to recover from disasters, as well as information on disaster recovery assistance currently available, by visiting the Disaster Assist website.
  • Contact your industry association for industry specific information or your local council to see if there are seminars, workshops or networking events for local businesses.

9. Celebrate your recovery

Once your business recovers from an emergency, it is important to re-connect with your customers. This could be a perfect opportunity promote your small business to your community.

Download the free MarketMyBiz tablet application to create your marketing plan on the go. Don't have a tablet? Our Marketing plan template and guide is also available in Word version.

10. Engage with your community

If your local area was also affected by emergencies and your business is in a position to assist, you may consider helping your local schools, charities and community centres. This is a great way to engage with your community while creating exposure for your small business.

More tips

To ensure the financial wellbeing of your business, it's important you have a plan to manage emergencies. Have a look at these tips on planning for emergencies.

Check out Natural disaster assistance for businesses to access support for your business.

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